The Man Who Was Almost a Man

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The Man Who Was Almost a Man

Character Analysis In Richard Wright’s “The Man Who Was Almost a Man”, there is only one main character, Dave Saunders, and a handful of secondary characters. Dave Saunders is a seventeen year old, “long, loose-jointed limbed” African-American boy living in what seems like the South, either in Alabama or Louisiana, judging from the fact that the Illinois Central railroad runs through the area where he lives. Dave is struggling with growing up and is trying to achieve a sense of maturity that he is not yet ready for. His idea of being a mature adult is to own a gun, since all the men he works with on the field own one and practice shooting them. He thinks that if he gets one and shoots with the men, they will accept him as one of their own. Dave is the only round character in this short story since he is the only character whose thoughts we, the audience, are able to read. By reading his thoughts, we gain insight on his feelings and mental state. Dave seems to be fascinated with brute strength and power, which he sees as the only way to gain status in society. He isn’t a normal type of character looking to find his place in society by being murderous. Most of those characters know exactly what they are doing and have foresight to the consequences of their actions. Dave is unique because in his mind, owning the gun is a rite of passage straight into adulthood, without any sacrifices normal people make. He lacks any such foresight. As a result of being a round character, Dave is also dynamic. This is evidenced by the fact that in the beginning, Dave’s feeling is that acquiring a gun will usher him straight into manhood, but at the end, Dave realizes that it will take a lot more to become a man than just owning a gun, but he still holds the gun as a central part in his future. Who knows what he will do with it, but I can see a life of crime for young Dave Saunders. Next is Mrs. Saunders, Dave’s mother, who is a flat, static character.

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